The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

The Student News Site of Walt Whitman High School

The Black and White

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April 19, 2024

Presidential directive allows transgender high school students to use preferred bathrooms

For most students, using the school bathroom is an uneventful experience. But for many transgender teenagers, a trip to the restroom can include strange looks and harassment from classmates.

Photo by Lily Friedman.
Photo by Lily Friedman.

President Obama issued a presidential directive requiring that all public high schools allow transgender students to use their preferred bathroom May 13.

It’s an enormous relief for students to know that all of their rights are under federal protection, Whitman Pride Alliance President Paula Molina said.

“We’re enthusiastic that the change will allow for more self-expression and student rights,” Molina said. “Change was necessary because prohibiting people from using the bathroom denies them the right to be treated as human beings, regardless of their identity.”

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Both Whitman’s Pride Alliance and the Obama administration said they hope that the directive will curtail recent anti-LGBT+ legislation, including the controversial HB2 Act recently passed in North Carolina, which forced transgender individuals to use the restroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificate.

Though it’s already federally mandated that public institutions can’t discriminate based on sexual orientation, the directive reinforces the concept. If schools don’t comply, they will face lawsuits and a loss of federal funding.

“The directive interprets pre-existing civil rights laws,” government teacher Colin O’Brien said. “By exerting federal power over the states, President Obama is counteracting what he feels are discriminatory state laws, but some states may still complain.”

Around the country, social conservatives have written letters to President Obama and local school boards voicing concerns over their children’s privacy rights in school bathrooms.

While some parents may argue against the decision, the purpose was to help those who need it; offending the opposition wasn’t the main goal, Molina said.

“It’s okay to be scared or nervous about change, but the LGBT+ community has dealt with those emotions for centuries,” Molina said. “Whether you are comfortable with the decision or not, it brings recognition and validity to different identities across the country, and that needs to be accepted.”

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Lily Friedman
Lily Friedman, Online Editor-in-Chief

Grade: 12


Interests: Writing, sports, politics, music, hiking


Why did you join the Black & White?  
I've always loved telling stories, so journalism provided me with a medium to investigate stories in my community and relate those stories to national trends.

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Last year, I expanded from my base as a news writer to cover everything from county education policy to the reasoning behind my passion for country music. I love writing, finding trends, and compiling information, so my job as an editor is really more of a pleasure than a job for me.

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  • S

    Subject to the Great KingMay 24, 2016 at 11:09 pm

    Thank you King Barack, more government means more freedom

  • T

    ThoughtfulMay 22, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    While I am sensitive to the interests of the LGBTQ community, I hope that Whitman engages in a productive discussion regarding gender dysphoria and the need for counseling. An impetuous move at the federal level could precipitate a resentful backlash and further alienation of the trans community- one that ought to be understood far more.